For the past couple of years I’ve been hearing a 4-letter word that causes so much stress for pet sitters and dog walkers.
Here is the word: TEXT.
Texting from clients (at all hours of the day and night) and texting from staff (also at all hours of the day and night) infuriates many pet business owners.
And of course the pet owners expect an instant response because that pet care provider has responded at all hours of the day and night in the past. It’s hard not to. Can you really just sit there at 11pm and NOT respond to a text you’ve read? It’s tough.
But training your clients and staff is like training a dog: you have to train people on what works for you and what doesn’t. When you respond to client and staff texts at 11pm, it causes your clients and staff to send more texts at 11pm (or later, egads!)
Here’s the thing with the texting: Many pet business owners keep allowing it to happen, even though they dislike it so much.
They (mistakenly) assume their clients will leave them if they stop offering texting as a method of communication. They (mistakenly) assume that as a business they have to offer texting as a form of communication to their clients and staff.
Nope. You don’t.
And if you stop allowing your clients to text you, you will be AMAZED at how much more peace you feel.
Here’s how to stop your clients and staff from texting you:
1. Alert your clients and staff via email that starting today, texting is no longer a viable form of communication. We’ve all had the experience of texts getting lost or not delivered to the right person so you can use that as an ‘excuse’ if you need one. Let them know you can be reached at your office phone number or email. Remind them of your office hours.
2. When clients or staff members do text you (and they probably will as it’ll be a habit especially if they’ve been texting you for years), don’t text a reply. That just reinforces the ‘bad behavior’. Call or email them to remind them that you no longer accept texts and to please email or call your office going forward.
3. If, after a few weeks, large amounts of your clients can’t seem to stop texting you then I recommend looking into changing your cell phone number and getting a business landline or a new cell phone. (They don’t need to know it’s a cell phone. In fact, if they know, you’ll be recreating what you just worked so hard to change.) Obviously, changing your business number is a last resort but one that will work very well if the texting is out of control and you see no light at the end of the tunnel even after you’ve done the steps above. You can then send out an email stating your new number and that it will not accept texts going forward. That will nip it in the bud.
4. If you feel that you simply must keep texting your clients and staff (and it annoys you that you must) then set firm office hours and put your cell phone in the closet during non-office hours.
5. If you do need to get a new phone line (or simply upgrade the one you have), I highly recommend this phone service: Ooma.com. It is fantastic! Here’s some of what I love about it: it’s super easy to set up, the Ooma box plugs right into your wall jack and Voila! You are ready to go.
The business phone service is under $20 per month (the personal phone service is only $4 a month!) There are too many great features that Ooma offers to mention here so I recommend that you check them out if your current business landline is too expensive (mine was over $100 a month before I switched to Ooma) and/or if you need to create a new phone line.
Wishing you a wonderful (and text-free!) weekend,